Shuffle Up And Deal

Author's note: I'm getting tired of writing these, but when these things happen, this is the only thing I know how to do.

Over the years, Cathy has changed last names a few times. Neihaus, Gillespie...she started off, though, with Wyman. One of five Wyman kids, as a matter of fact, to inhabit the original Dysfunction Junction (pictured at the right...damn I miss that back yard).

My aunt Cathy was a sharp-tongued, occasionally foul-mouthed firebrand of an Irish-Italian woman. She was loud, crazy and her laugh--dear God that woman's laugh is as easy to call up in memory as my own name.

Whenever I think of Cathy, I think of summertime. I spent many summers as a child with her as my day-care provider. She taught me to dive into a swimming pool, how to clean someone's clock at 500 rummy and how to shuffle cards. Those summers with her I watched her grow large with pregnancy, watched the babies in her tummy kick her cards while we played. I watched her change diapers. I played with my cousins at her house.

My Aunt Cathy is gone.

She's been sick with various problems for many years, but being a stubborn Wyman, nothing could keep her down. Not until now, when Leukemia took hold of her. She doesn't have to fight anymore, though. No more pain, questions, illnesses. Now, she is free and at the truest peace she's known. Today, at around 5:20pm Indiana time, my Aunt Cathy joined her mother on the other side.

I haven't seen her since 2007 at my grandmother's funeral. When I think of Cathy, though, my mind immediately begins to walk through her house. The living room where we played cards for hours on end. The backyard with its treehouse, the creek running through the woods, the dog house. The pantry that was always full of infinite varieties of cereals and chips. A fridge full of treats that I could sneak away not so stealthily. I think of summertime...sticky with humidity and the juice of mulberries from the ginormous tree in the back yard.

I like to think that wherever she is now, she's basking in sunlight....maybe in a big backyard like the one in the picture with springy grass between her toes and the scent of pear trees and honeysuckle in the air. I like to think that she and my grandma are putting together a big picnic or something for us when the rest of us join her when our times come.

I've got a while *knock wood* before I see her again, but when I do, I hope she'll have time for a game of Rummy. First one to 500 wins.